My buddy Pete and I spent some time this summer on a boat called The Boat Across America. It was not a cruising boat. But it was an Albemarle 24 Cuddy Express, equipped with a brand new 240HP Volvo Penta Engine and Composite Outdrive, so you know we weren’t totally roughing it. We even had cutting edge technology onboard, like Volvo Penta’s Sea Key and an EPIRB provided by BOAT/US, but I remember being quite nervous on June 1st, when Scotty Harrel (President of Albemarle Boats) said as we left the dock in Edenton, NC, "See you in a month..." After a few pictures for the local newspaper, we were off... or shall I say "on..." On the water for 29 days straight - traveling over 5400 miles by sea around America’s Great Loop. The Boat Across America Tour was the Discover Boating Program’s summer mobile tour designed to share the pleasures of boating with as many people as possible. I was lucky enough to drive the boat.
As you look at the map of the course we charted, you may or may not have known that those of us who live in the eastern United States actually live on an island... sort of. It takes awhile to complete the Great Loop. Some cruisers take six months, others take six years... or more. They are the ones who do it right, exploring the hundreds of small towns and large cities along the way.... Instead, we did it virtually nonstop. Our daily layovers lasted long enough for some dinner, a little email (remember, I was working) and a usually-good-night’s-sleep.
Our exploration was virtually all on the water, which qualifies to be called a "trip of a lifetime." They say 90% of Americans live within an hour of a great boating destination, and after my trip this June, it is clear to see how this is true. We boated on nearly every type of water... from narrow canals and through over 50 locks, to huge rivers sending millions of gallons of water every hour along their paths... Great bays, great lakes and great runs along the Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean, we had fun!!!
Each of these bodies of water offered different challenges and adventures, and unique opportunities to reconnect, and create brand new memories along the way. I experienced the power of boating myself, a unique chance to relax while exploring, to find peace through an exciting day (or month) on the water. The faces on the people I passed along the way told a similar story, proven every evening when I pulled into a marina. I was refreshed by a whole new world of stories that other boaters wanted to share with me, and I was glad to share my story with them.
I knew early on, that I was one of the luckiest people in the world... to have a job that put me on the water for a month. And a month that allowed me to share with many, in the greatest way I know how, that life is better on a boat...